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Mark Lunsford
Mark Lunsford holding a picture of his daughter, Jessica.

Mark Lunsford arrived home on the morning of February 23, 2005 to find his daughter Jessie's alarm ringing and Jessie nowhere to be found. She was usually up to give him a hug and tell him how much she loved him. Mark is a single Dad who was living with his parents; he had raised 9-year-old Jessie since she was one year old. That alarm set off a nationwide manhunt and in the media firestorm, Jessie became know as "the girl in the pink hat." Jessie's remains were found 23 days later, 150 yards from her home. She had been raped and buried alive. The man responsible, John Couey, was a registered sex offender who had slipped through the cracks of the system.

Lunsford's fight is fueled by his love for his daughter who always told him nothing would ever come between them. He works constantly on behalf of children and has become a nationally recognized spokesman for tougher, smarter laws regarding child predators/offenders. To date, Mark has advocated for the passing of The Jessica Lunsford Act in 42 states and his mission is to pass it in all 50 states. To further his fight he met privately with Alberto Gonzales, United States Attorney General, on April 19, 2007; inspiring Gonzalez to make protecting children a priority.

Lunsford has advocated for the Adam Walsh Act and continues to lobby for its reauthorization and funding for this federal bill, so that the U.S. Marshals Service can track the absconded predators/offenders.

Lunsford is a weapon against those who prey on children 12 and under. He has worked with the U.S. Marshals Service tracking down absconded sexual predators/offenders. Lunsford supports child advocate centers, which are responsible for building cases against sexual predators/offenders.

Lunsford was a 2005 winner of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award; it was awarded to him at the 2006 Jefferson Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes outstanding public service and is the highest honor available to local Jefferson Award recipients.

In 2007, John Couey was convicted and sentenced to death.